US, UK conduct new strikes on Houthi rebels in Yemen

The U.S. and the U.K. conducted new strikes on Houthi rebels in Yemen Saturday, continuing their response to the Iran-backed groups’ attacks on cargo ships in the Red Sea. 

American and British fighter jets hit 18 sites in multiple locations in Yemen, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press. 

The attacks targeted eight locations, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed in a statement Saturday.

The new strikes targeted drones, launchers, unmanned underwater vehicles and rockets. It is a continuation of the strikes by the U.S. military that have been hitting Houthi targets consistently for the past few weeks. 

“The United States will not hesitate to take action, as needed, to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways,” Austin wrote in his statement. “We will continue to make clear to the Houthis that they will bear the consequences if they do not stop their illegal attacks, which harm Middle Eastern economies, cause environmental damage, and disrupt the delivery of humanitarian aid to Yemen and other countries.”

U.S. fighter jets took off from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier currently posted in the Red Sea. 

The new strikes come after the Houthis damaged a U.K.-owned vessel carrying over 40,000 tons of fertilizer on Monday. The U.S. called the damage an “environmental disaster.”

The ship’s cargo “could spill into the Red Sea and worsen this environmental disaster,” U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said Friday. 

The Houthis have conducted drone strikes and fired missiles on cargo ships in the Red Sea for the past few months. The attacks started in November as a way for the Iran-backed rebels to pressure Israel to discontinue their war against the militant group Hamas in Gaza, which began last October.

Houthi strikes have disrupted international shipping in the region with some companies redirecting their vessels to travel around the southern tip of Africa, a longer path that presents a heavier financial toll, per the AP.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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